How Do International Students Apply For The CPA Exam?

10 min read

The Certified Public Accounting (CPA) designation is one of the most in-demand accounting designations in the U.S., according to the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide. As an international student, you may be eligible to become a licensed U.S. CPA under certain Board of Accountancy requirements. The path for non-U.S citizens to become a CPA is different, but not impossible.

Review our guide below and learn more about how you can take the first step in becoming a licensed CPA in the U.S.


For international students, the way to become a CPA is through a participating State Board of Accountancy.  

The following jurisdictions do not participate in the international administration for the CPA Exam, as outlined by The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA):

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • The U.S Virgin Islands

It’s important to remember that the requirements for all jurisdictions are not the same. International students should do their research and compare requirements before making a decision.  Candidates can view state requirements here.

The CPA Exam is only available in English and is not offered in any other language.

Application Process

The application process for international candidates is nearly identical to the regular CPA application process. According to the AICPA website, international candidates will have to take the following steps to apply:

  • Select a U.S jurisdiction and contact their Board of Accountancy to obtain the application materials.
  • Complete your application, including any extra materials that may be required by international candidates, and pay the required fees.
  • Once you have confirmation that you’re qualified, schedule your exam.

Testing Locations

After you’ve confirmed your eligibility and completed the application process, you’ll need to locate a testing location. International students can take the Uniform CPA Exam at a Prometric test center. NASBA has listed the following countries as offering international testing sites for the CPA Exam:

  • Bahrain
  • Brazil
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Candidates can find the full list of specific test centers for each country listed above at the Prometric website.

CPA Exam Review Materials

International candidates face a unique challenge in studying for the CPA Exam. Some exam questions may refer to United States law and practices that are unfamiliar to international candidates. It would be wise for anyone looking to get licensed as an international student to purchase CPA Exam Review materials to supplement their studying.

The Becker Bundle CPA Exam Review is a premium review package that includes lectures, textbooks, simulations, practice questions, mock exams, flashcards, a final review module and more.  All of these materials can help you on your journey to becoming a CPA.

Becker collaborates with global education providers to ensure that our international students are receiving localized assistance. Find your global partner here.  

Additional Resources

International candidates looking to find more information about participating jurisdictions, candidate eligibility, fees and are encouraged to visit the AICPA International Testing FAQ or NASBA’s International Administration page.

Don’t feel overwhelmed! The CPA Exam is demanding, but our team is happy to help you navigate every step along the way. Contact our International Customer Support team and prepare to start your CPA journey.

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